CURIOUS CITY — ANSWER MY PRAYER, WHERE’S MY SINGLE PAYER?! I went to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago for a good friend of mine, and yours, and was impressed with the other friends I met there. Since the celebrant is in the medical field, it’s no wonder the place was crawling with M.D.s, but there are some doctors who turn a cold shoulder because they feel this guy costs them money. Doesn’t really, but possibly keeps them from depositing that extra million or two.
Birthday boy was praised by some articulate impassioned speakers who know first-hand what good he has done, and all wished him a long life and expanded influence. When wishing well might hit you in the pocketbook, you know it’s a good cause.
Yes, our dear old friend Medicare was celebrating a 49th birthday, and the usual gang of suspects gathered at a home off San Vicente where many such fundraisers are held. The yard was beautiful, the food outstanding, live music, but I went for the speeches and was amply rewarded.
Several medical experts explained passionately what a mess, a very expensive mess, our health care system is in because we refuse to do it like almost every other country, eliminating the middle men (insurance companies, the real death panels who come between us and our doctors) and using the massive base of our population to negotiate much, much lower costs on everything.
My temptation is to say it’s insane, but it’s a very calculated and effective effort by the entities that make incredible profits, out of our pockets. We already have a proven system to deliver great medical care to the whole country at a fraction of the cost, one that has worked well for almost 50 years – Medicare. Medicare is single payer. No insurance companies.
The very simplest thing to do would be to put everyone on Medicare. No new bureaucracy. These physicians spoke from their personal experiences of heartbreaking situations they saw people in because we refuse to value our citizens over insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical company profits. Obscene profits.
The group sponsoring this affair was Physicians for a National Health Program (California), and their website is full of great info. Local doc Paul Song was eloquent and moving in explaining the human cost of this complicated issue, but the plum I went for was the chance to hear Michael Hiltzik, one of my journalist heroes, the Pulitzer-winning business section columnist for the LA Times. He ran down a complete history, and it was enlightening. I highly recommend you read everything he writes in the Times. He suffers no fools and pulls no punches calling out corruption in business wherever he finds it, and of course he finds it everywhere.
AND THE ANGELS SING. I started writing for print eons ago because I had a passion for and strong opinions about music that I wanted to share with a wider audience than just the two drunk guys at the bar. After decades of that I figure I’ve done my part and now I write mostly about other things. But the motivation was always to give wider exposure to music I thought was exceptional, that others might not otherwise hear about.
So I’m pleased to be able to let you know about a performance this Saturday by a group of local young women whose choral talents and the program they’ve put together will likely take you straight to heaven. And it’s free.
They call themselves Huls’ Angels, because they all came out of the outstanding choral program at Santa Monica High School led so masterfully by Jeff Huls. Hooked on the high of sonorous, soaring vocals, they decided last summer that graduation didn’t mean having to give that up, so they got together from the far corners they had spread out to, to create and rehearse a program, completely on their own. The maiden voyage last year was phenomenal, and I expect this year’s version to be just as memorable.
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church (1343 Ocean Park Blvd.), Saturday, Aug. 16, 3 p.m. sharp. The Summer Alumnae Concert. (Do I have to disclose my daughter is part of it? How do you think I found out?)
THIS LITERALLY VERY UNIQUE DILEMMA. The Merriam-Webster folks, held in pretty high regard for a couple of centuries, seem to have decided it’s time for a break. Maybe we shouldn’t be the experts and final authority on words and their meanings, they decide, even though someone has to. No — power to the people!
Many will argue that language is always changing, and new words are added as they gain popularity in everyday usage. We no longer speak or spell as Shakespeare did, do we?
Then there’s the other argument: words mean something! They must mean something for us to communicate, and the more nuanced the meanings the more precise and expressive the language can be. Yes, language changes, over decades, and centuries — not from week to week. And it’s not a popularity contest. Just because a lot of people start misusing a word is no reason to enshrine that misuse and ignorance and make it the norm.
“Chillax” has been made legit, and that makes me nervous. (Is “legit” legit?) “Bromance” and “frenemy” – please keep your distance. I will not go to a “funplex” nor get close to “jockdom.” “Schmutz” and “tuchus“ are now kosher. “Geocache” was voted in by a Facebook contest. Voted in. Contest. Facebook. Merriam-Webster. Yikes.
But here’s the one that tipped my canoe. They just announced that “literally” and “figuratively” can be used interchangeably, since many people now do. I’m literally turning over in my grave myself, though it didn’t quite kill me. That will happen when “unique” becomes the next one thrown on the village square bonfire of egalitarian ignorance accommodation. Pretty unique, most unique, kind of unique. I reference the distinguished professor of language “Weird Al” Yankovic, and his brilliant “Word Crimes.”
Journalism, and now the very language I love – why do so many things I cherish disappear before my eyes? Thank God there’s still one company making black raspberry chocolate chunk ice cream.
(NOT SO) RANDOM QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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